Sometimes parents walk into their young child's classroom and ask themselves "What's the teacher doing? The children are just playing!"
Teachers value play as an important meduim for learning. With the focus on explorative play, a broad range of goals provide children with experiences that enable them to develop and accumulate their own knowledge.
Preschoolers and their families had the opportunity to do just that during a family fun night at the Clay County YMCA earlier this month, sponsored by a grant from CAPE (Community Alliances to Promote Education).
"Our goal is to provide and encourage parental involvement early on in a child's education," Mary Yelton, education coordinator of prevention services under the CAPE grant, said.
Young children learn best by doing, involving active thinking and exploring. Children should be able to find out how things work and to learn for themselves about the world in which we live. Because parents are a child's first and best teacher, education professionals in Clay County work to develop and establish the family's learning link.
"It's important to read to your child every day, but it's most important to spend time with your child," Yelton said.
Play centers utilized Silly Putty, gears, a dollhouse, blocks, ribbons, a parachute, a sensory table, and a snack center as well as a writing center. Most of the centers are simple to make at home. Parents can just use what they have at home and make learning fun for their child. For more information to help your family develop fun learning experiences, call 448-8985.
Many play centers had several lessons in common such as: Control small muscles in hands, coordinate hand-eye movement, observe objects and events with curiosity, explore cause and effect, classify objects, recognize patterns and repeat them, use one-to-one correspondence, demonstrate self-direction and independence, express self using words and expanded sentences, actively participate in conversation, recognize own feelings and manage them appropriately, play well with other children, share and respect the rights of others and show ability to adjust to new situations.
Centers allowed children to make believe with objects, make and interpret representations, show persistence in approaching tasks, approach problems flexibly, ask questions, apply knowledge or experience to a new context, respect and care for classroom environment and materials, use thinking skills to resolve conflicts, use tools for writing and drawing, understand the purpose of writing, demonstrate understanding of print concept and knowledge of the alphabet, show awareness of position in space, compare and measure, demonstrate basic locomotor skills such as running, jumping, hopping and galloping, show balance while moving, demonstrate throwing, kicking and catching skills, stand up for rights and demonstrate appropriate trust in adults.